2023 Bull Market Pick: 2001–04 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Welcome back to the Hagerty Bull Market List, our annual deep dive into the collector cars (and bikes) climbing the value ranks. This vehicle is one of 11 chosen for the 2023 installment of the List. To see the other 10, click here.
High-performance Corvette variants often came with some baked-in sacrifice: a heavy big-block hobbling chassis balance or racetrack handling at the expense of ride quality. That all changed with the introduction of the C5 Corvette Z06 in 2001.
At its core, the base C5 platform’s stiff hydroformed frames and rear transaxle layout maximized interior space and everyday usability while also paying dividends for weight balance and rigidity. Chevy opted to base this performance Vette on the C5 hardtop rather than the heavier and more flexy hatchback coupe. Hung with firmer suspension components and stickier, non-run-flat rubber, the C5’s cornering capability swelled to near-supercar levels. Hot-rodding the base car’s LS1 V-8 into the 405-hp LS6 yielded a formidable 4.0-second 0–60 hustle. Even now, the Z06 meets an array of buyers on their turf—it’s as happy on a relaxed cruise as it is beating up on cars half its age during a track day.
Speaking of track days, the Z06 looks the part, sporting several performance-oriented design cues. The notch-back greenhouse, aggressive wheels, brake ducts, mesh intake screens, and subtle badges convey a more serious, capable presence than entry-level C5s. Slide behind the wheel and the Z06’s controls, though decades old, feel current and precise. The brake pedal is firm, and each long mechanical throw of the shifter conveys that you’re wrangling 405 horses. This is no Miata shifter. Although appearing thin and delicate for the car, the steering wheel’s weight is firm but not overly heavy, and behind it are easy-to-read gauges with an attractive depth to them.
Fire it up, pop the easily modulated clutch, and the Z06 squats back on its haunches while roaring to its 6500-rpm redline. It has theatrics to accentuate its pace. There’s more roll and pitch than in younger sports cars, but suspension motions are well controlled and it never feels unwieldy. Once you’ve gotten some fun out of your system, the Z06 is a pleasant, docile road-tripper, idling down the highway at under 2000 rpm.
“Before I bought this Z06, I didn’t realize how smooth they were on the open road,” says owner Chuck Brown, who bought the car from a friend in 2018. “My wife and I enjoy it for Sunday drives to the beach or through the California mountains. We love the power and handling, but also how relaxed and comfortable the Z06 can be.”
Unsurprisingly, enthusiasts of all ages enjoy that versatility, as cross-generational appeal has driven the C5 Z06’s recent appreciation. And word is getting out on something Brown discovered four years ago: The C5 Z06 offers the sports car experience without the typical penalty of high cost. At least, for now anyway.
2003 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Highs: Excellent engine and exhaust note; capable and not overly stiff suspension; returns nearly 30 mpg if you keep your foot out of it; there are plenty out there at a wide range of prices.
Lows: Seats aren’t supportive enough for aggressive driving; development spent less time on the interior finishes than on the rest of the car.
Price range: #1 – $49,300 #2 – $34,300 #3 – $25,600 #4 – $13,600
HAGERTY AUTO INTELLIGENCE SAYS:
The C5 Z06 has all the early indicators of increased demand. Lookups on Hagerty Valuation Tools have more than tripled since 2021. An equal share of insurance quotes come from boomers, Gen X, and millennials, showing that demand is spread evenly throughout the market. New buyers are paying a premium for the best examples; #1 condition cars have increased 24 percent since the start of 2022, while #4 condition cars have dropped 17 percent.
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What does number 4 condition mean?
Have a look at this, it will help: https://www.hagerty.com/valuation-tools/about-our-conditions
Z06’s are always a fun car but this one has been overlooked by some for too long. I still prefer the C6 platform but I understand the love for this generation.
Many of these are still in excellent condition and have been garaged all their life. The C5 is the most important modern Vette from a historical perspective, and the C5 Z06 is one of the most fun to drive cars from this era period. Not surprised younger guys are getting into them. They look like a JDM icon and have a quick-revving awesome-sounding V8 with a close ratio 6 speed behind it. Car guy heaven!
The C5 Z06 is the American 992.
I prefer the looks of the C5Z over the 6/7/8. Would love to own a C8Z, but way above my price range. Pop-up lights, forged or spun-cast wheels, titanium exhaust, low-aero drag numbers, thinner glass, HUD etc. I picked up mine (bone stock) 2 years ago with 21k miles for $27k. Last of the analog have-to-shift-to-drive cars. Get ’em while you can. Lovin’ every minute of it!
My 2002 ZO6 had a hand built COMP cam kit and the builder was very talented. I drove up to NASCAR country Conover, NC to trade my C4. Z car did O-60 in 3 seconds. I’m a road racer in FLA 14 yrs
These are the last generation with all the standard Corvette’s original requirements: a manual transmission; front engine; and pop-up headlights.